Monday, February 18, 2013

Lessons from a Dead Girl--Jo Knowles

Title: Lessons from a Dead Girl
Author: Jo Knowles
Publisher: Candlewick, 2007 (ebook 2012)
Pages: 254 p
Source: Library Ebook
Compensation: None

Laine is the kind of girl who longs for a best friend but is socially shy and awkward, which is why she's so shocked and delighted when Leah, the younger sister of Laine's older sister's best friend, picks *her* to be her best friend forever. The girls are inseparable and do all sorts of normal best friend things... And some not normal things too. Unfortunately for Laine, Leah is a controlling abusive type of friend, one who makes Laine do things she doesn't want to do and then makes fun of her and makes her feel guilty for having done them at all.

The story opens with a teenaged Laine remembering her tortured history with Leah after having just heard that Leah has been in a terrible fatal car accident. Knowles does a good job of hinting at the reasons behind Leah's bullying sexual abusive ways without excusing her for them. We sympathize with Laine, even if she is too naive at times. Knowles has not taken the easy way out and demonized her bully, but has instead written complex realistic characters. Lessons from a Dead Girl is a solid YA book and well worth the read.

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